Operation I-Go

Yamamoto’s Last Offensive ̶ New Guinea and the Solomons April 1943

Michael Claringbould

Operation I-Go was Admiral Yamamoto's last offensive, using a powerful assembly of hundreds of aircraft that threatened to overwhelm Allied defences in four key South Pacific locations in April 1943.
Date Published :
September 2020
Publisher :
Avonmore Books
Illustration :
fully illustrated in color
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9780648665946

Dimensions : 9.84 X 6.93 inches
Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


In early 1943 Japanese forces in the South Pacific had suffered three key strategic setbacks. In the Solomons, the Japanese had been forced to withdraw from Guadalcanal in February, signalling the end to a costly and bitterly fought campaign. Likewise, in New Guinea the overland effort to capture Port Moresby had also failed. Then in March came the shock of the Battle of the Bismarck Sea when Allied airpower wiped out virtually an entire resupply convoy on its way to Lae.

However Japanese strength in the theatre was far from spent. Indeed, at this critical juncture Allied and Japanese forces were relatively evenly matched. Both sides were waging war against each other’s supply lines, and here commander of the IJN Combined Fleet Admiral Yamamoto sensed an opportunity. As the Allies sought to advance up the Solomons and further into New Guinea a huge logistical effort was needed. Anchorages packed with ships and newly constructed airfield complexes were prime targets.

By temporarily bolstering his land-based air force at Rabaul with carrier-based airpower, Yamamoto assembled a strike force of hundreds of aircraft. With these he planned to overwhelm Allied defences in a multi-day blitz against four crucial locations in New Guinea and the Solomons. Named Operation I-Go, it would be the largest IJN air operation ever launched in the region.
The odds favoured the plan, and any such offensive waged in 1942 would surely have wreaked havoc with Allied defences. However, by 1943 I-Go was a huge gamble. Would it strike a body blow and give the Allies reason to pause their advance? Or would it cause irrecoverable wastage of IJN offensive air power?

The results of I-Go were surprising, although it only achieved a fraction of what the Japanese claimed. However, the greatest irony was that it led to the death of its architect, Yamamoto, who was killed just days after the operation was completed.

This is the first detailed account of I-Go written with reference to both Japanese and Allied sources, and it surely sets a new historical benchmark for this key chapter of the Pacific War.

About The Author

Raised in Port Moresby, Michael Claringbould is a globally recognized expert on the New Guinea air war and Japanese aviation in particular.

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